Driving abroad this summer? Beware the new licence changes!

The DVLA’s plan to scrap the paper counterpart to the UK driving licence could cause chaos for drivers hiring cars abroad this summer, according to motoring groups.

Originally planned to have been axed from January 1st this year, the organisation pushed back the nixing of the paper counterpart until 8th June after concern that it wasn’t ready for the changeover.

Paper licence to be axed from June 8th

From that date onwards, UK drivers will be obliged to carry only their photocard licences as the traditional paper half of the license will be cut to save millions of pounds in admin fees.

Information previously held on the counterpart, like penalty points or endorsements, will instead be held on the DVLA’s online database and can be checked online, over the phone or by post.

However, drivers wanting to hire cars abroad will have to register their intentions with the DVLA in advance by using their website to enter their licence number and obtaining a code.

The code can then be given to the car hire company instead of the paper driving licence, however the code is only valid for 72 hours, meaning that holidaymakers could be at risk of getting caught out.

Drivers can also download a printable PDF of their driving history, but with the changes not widely publicised it’s not yet known how many car hire companies abroad will accept the print-off.

Mark Bower from hire insurance firm MoneyMaxim, said that this could potentially cause massive problems for drivers intending on holidaying overseas and hiring a car.

Outlining the dangers of getting caught out thanks to the changeover, he said: “Most people are simply unaware that these changes are on the way – and it is not just renters.

“I spoke to one big car hire firm in Portugal this week and they knew nothing of the changes. Six weeks away from implementation, the whole thing is very muddled.”

He added that even doing it on a smartphone is a hassle, thanks to the complicated process needed to redeem the code and high data roaming charges while in other countries.

Public and companies ‘unaware of the changes’

However, a spokesperson for the DVLA said: “There is up-to-date information on the website and we are working closely with the industry to ensure that their systems and processes are ready for the changes.”

Are you planning on hiring a car while abroad this summer? How do the licence changes affect you? Why not let us know by joining the discussion on our Facebook or Twitter pages!